Chile’s long-term low-emission development strategy, submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in 2021, provides a road map to carbon neutrality by 2050, covering all gases and sectors excluding international shipping and aviation1. The net-zero target was subsequently legally enshrined through Chile’s Climate Change Framework Law (2022), which built on earlier climate policy planning efforts and reflected thousands of public comments received on the first submitted version in 2020.

Chile’s new Environment Minister, Maisa Rojas, spearheaded the law. Rojas took office under recently elected President Gabriel Boric. Boric’s pledge to make climate a top priority of his administration amplified recent climate action in the country and created a supportive environment for net-zero implementation.

The Climate Change Framework Law completely shifted climate policy implementation in Chile, creating new governance structures from the national to local levels to accelerate net-zero implementation (see Figure 1). Previously, the responsibility for implementing climate policies was not shared across government entities, with the burden falling solely on the Ministry of the Environment, resulting in a slow policymaking process and lack of binding commitments. The Climate Act decentralized and mainstreamed net-zero implementation, assigning responsibilities to 17 government ministries, with measurable indicators to track progress, as well as to regional and municipal authorities. The act created critical new structures, including, at the national level, the Council of Ministers for Sustainability and Climate Change to vet climate policies; the Scientific Advisory Committee of independent climate policy experts to advise on policy instruments and progress toward targets; and the National Council for Sustainability and Climate Change, composed of stakeholders, to facilitate public participation and accountability. At the subnational level, regional Climate Change Committees have been established for all 16 regions of the country to develop and implement local climate policies, and existing municipal government structures have been given authority for climate policy implementation.

Although the law itself was passed only recently, Chile already began to lay the groundwork in 2021 when it developed sectoral carbon budgets for the first time and assigned them to specific agencies. A series of sectoral policy initiatives were launched, including a coal exit initiative, a 100% electric vehicle pledge and sustainable management and afforestation plans. Sectors can now be held accountable through budgetary sanctions if they do not meet their targets.

The shift in governance structure in Chile has already resulted in a significant increase in the amount of climate policy work that the government has been able to undertake, enabling policies to develop on short timelines. The national government is developing critical policy instruments over the course of one year from the law’s publication — by June 2023 — including procedural regulations to enact greenhouse gas emissions standards for a range of sources, potentially the basis for an emissions trading program.

Sectoral mitigation and adaptation plans must be ready by June 2025. Regional and municipal governments are each developing climate action plans over the course of three years. The Climate Change Framework Law ties regulatory instruments to Chile’s international commitments, ensuring they will be reviewed and updated periodically as needed. If implementation of current policies proceeds as planned, Chile’s carbon dioxide emissions may have already peaked and may be on a trajectory to meet 2030 targets compatible with a 1.5°C temperature rise in the longer term.

Figure showing Chile's new governance structure for climate policy implementation and near-term timelines for climate policy development.


1 The plan describes pathways to net zero and includes national as well as sector-specific carbon budgets, with interim targets of peak emissions in 2025 and an emissions cap for 2030

Realizing Net-Zero Emissions: Good Practices in Countries

This case study is part of a working paper outlining a "Framework for Net-Zero Climate Action," emphasizing outcomes, enabling action areas, and actions crucial for achieving net-zero emissions. It showcases real-world examples of countries implementing these strategies, offering valuable insights for others.

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